The Weekly Lowdown


Not a whole lot going on this week in the lead-up to the holidays, so I’ll keep this update brief —

Invasive is $1.99 for your ebookmachine today. Not sure how long it lasts. But if you want a novel where people are attacked by flesh-farming ants, boy howdy, do I have the book for you. The ants are a metaphor for anxiety! But also they’re actual ants, so.

Reminder that The Book of Accidents is up for Goodreads Choice in Horror.

Saw the first episode of Wheel of Time and liked it a bunch. The cast is great. It was gorier than I expected — lots of guts strewn about and exploding Trollocs. I read most of the series when I was a kid — high school into college. Met Robert Jordan at a signing one time (he had this magnificent goat staff which strongly suggests he is, or was, a wizard). I tapped out by… book nine, I think. The books seemed to get longer while the span of time the books encompassed got shorter, and it just felt like a slog-ass drag. I’ve heard Sanderson (unsurprisingly) stuck the landing, though. I’d like to go back and re-read but holy crap, where do you find the time? ANYWAY. First episode of the show was cool. Will keep trucking with it. I wish it didn’t look quite so… TV? A show like Game of Thrones looks filmic. The MCU shows, too. But this feels like TV. Which isn’t all bad — I found the Witcher show looked a little TV-ish, too. But for a show Amazon spent a buttload of cash on, it occasionally felt a little cheap-looking. Too glossy, too. Still. I’m in, for the moment.

Maya and the Three on Netflix was fuuuuucking great. I mean it’s a kid’s show so I guess I should say flippin’ great or something. Whatever. But it’s nine episodes, self-contained, one season. Funny and amazing battle scenes and a lot of heart and suspense.

Also caught Shang-Chi, which I liked a lot, too, but it’s hard not to feel a little burned out on the standard MCU origin-story plot arc. This did some new stuff, which I liked, and the first half of the movie is fucking electric, with some of the finest martial arts superhero fight scenes you could imagine. The second half gets a little boggy in CGI fantasyland shit, and the movie whiffs on some pretty big moments — moments that the MCU movies usually excel at articulating (meaning, those moments where everyone seems beaten, the hero/es rally, music swells, whoa, gosh, my feelings, whatever). And hard not to think, “Wow, I think I wanted Xialing to be the protagonist of this? Or at least an equal?” Still, it’s pretty great, and eminently rewatchable.

I want to care more about the new Spider-Man movie but don’t that much? I find that the Tom Holland movies are a blast but do a whole lot of work to make Spider-Man not about Spider-Man. The first two felt like they were really Iron Man handling shit, and then this one might be too much Doctor Strange. I love the multiverse collision idea, and I suspect when I see it, I’m going to pee my pants with joy, but right now I can’t quite summon the excitement or the nostalgia over trying to mash this stuff up in a way that feels cogent and not like a nostalgia grab.

What I did like a whole lot was Netflix’s The Harder They Fall, holy crap. That’s got style for miles, that movie, and the players are goddamn electric in it. It is a joy from start to finish. Great Western. Instant classic. Give Jonathan Majors more roles. More! More. MORE, I SAID. *shakes TV*

I read an excellent book — Alma Katsu’s The Fervor. Fucking terrifying. A ghoulish slice of historical horror. I am reminded how good a writer she is. Not out yet. April, I think. Would make a great limited series, ala Midnight Mass. And with that book, I think, I’m closed officially to blurbs for the moment. I need time to do some research work and also pleasure reading. (Not that blurbing isn’t pleasure reading. But it’s different than just being able to nab a book off the ol’ tbr and go to town.)

My kid just read Amira and Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed, and before that, Ghost Squad, by Claribel Ortega. Loved both if you need good middle grade for your kidlets. Or yourself, I won’t judge.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Pumpkin pie is bullshit but I’m getting one anyway. (I make pie, but only at Christmas.) Apple pie is the true ruler of our house, and is the greatest pie that exists. Though I am willing to hear your opinions on your favored choice of pie. Also turkey is mostly bullshit. Gonna roast a chicken instead. Roasted chicken seems so hard, and then you do it, and it was simple and is amazing, and also isn’t a turkey.

Though the real game is rib roast, and that’s what I make for Christmas.

Did you see the terribleminds 2021 gift guide? WELL DID YOU. Gifts for writers and beyond.

I think that’s it for now.

See you next week. IN YOUR NIGHTMARES.

Moo hoo ha ha.

And now, photos.


18 responses to “The Weekly Lowdown”

  1. Thanks for the middle school recs. Please keep those coming. My kid finishes a book every 3 days or so, so I need unending help keeping him in books. He’s in the middle of Dust & Grim btw. The hardback “looked too long” so I got it for him on Kindle and he’s happily reading away, lol…

  2. Well, hello Chuck (been following you long enough to use your first name.) I have read a whole bunch of your meanderings, and enjoyed. Then, got bored pissed and deleted you. Then I remembered something you eviscerated beautifully and I signed up again to hear, see, read, and argue with what you spill out. So this one, on movies, tv, books, sequels, sci-fi and fantasy intrigued me. Good Job, nice writing (yeah, jealous all over it) Thank you. Just so you know your inspiration caused me, after much procrastination (World Series champion procrastination!) to start and write my own Website – call it Terribleminds? – Nah, Prefer me, The “Silver Fox Writer” website. (Best white hair in existence.) Warning: I will be referring to you and your website, often, and directing readers to look you up. Is Okay? Okay. Regards, Stan Zalesny – AKA S.R. Zales Author.

  3. Favorite pie: coconut custard. (The impossible-type that grows its own crust.)
    And you do add a hefty shot of Jack Daniels to your pumpkin pie fixings before baking it, right?

  4. Controversial opinion: if it doesn’t have a pastry top it’s not a pie, it’s a tart. But I am an equal-opportunity nommer. I am struggling to think of any pie (or tart) which would not be my favourite pie (or tart) if placed in front of me.
    Even the classic petrol-station-warming-drawer pie, which is not exactly a culinary icon, became a beloved piece of NZ culture following Sergeant Guy Baldwin’s efforts stalling a suspect (search for “always blow on the pie” for a laugh).

    Roast chicken is always best when you oil it and dredge with seasoned flour before roasting – gets that skin nice and crispy. Unless you are secretly one of those people who peels the skin off and throws it away, in which case I withdraw. Aloofly.

  5. I am agreed that turkey is bullshit. It looks impressive on a platter — this big ass bird with shiny, brown skin but it’s dry and flavorless. Bigger is not always better and you may as well eat wood pulp. And the standard gravy that’s poured over turkey to make it somewhat edible is a lumpy, gluey mess. It’s too bad the Pilgrims didn’t stumble onto some Italian settlers who could teach them about lasagne.

  6. 1.) That hawk is beautiful. Is it a redtail? Usually I can tell, but I don’t see the red, so I’m confused.

    2.) Mincemeat. I know–it’s weird. But my great-grandparents were “straight off the boat” English (and the boat was *almost* the Titanic–which would have made this post a lot shorter), so… mincemeat. The Brits put beef suet in the weirdest shit, don’t they? Mincemeat, pumpkin, and cherry for the holidays. Apple pie goes with September–along with grape. I’m in apple and grape heaven up here in western NY, so I know what I’m talking about.

  7. Wandered over here from Felicia Day’s podcast to say hello. Enjoyed the apple talk and now waiting for the library to deliver The Wanderers (for me) and Dust and Grim (for my carbon copy). I’m an apple crisp lover myself, but will eat most pie in most forms.

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